Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Seventh Deadly Sin for Writers

Today we come to the last, and most powerful, of the seven deadly sins for writers:

Fear


Fear is the most dangerous vice of all. Fear stops nine of ten writers dead in their tracks before the first word is written. Fear will cause a writer to put away her manuscript the first time she runs into a plot problem she can’t solve or a character who seems wooden. Fear will rob a writer of her dream the first time someone confirms– or appears to confirm– what she has always secretly believed to be true: that her book is no good.

The problem is that you can’t be a writer without fear. Writers live in a constant state of fear. Those who make friends with fear will win the race. Those who do not will never even leave the start line.

Fear of failure keeps you going back to that manuscript until you get it right; fear of rejection keeps you sending it to agent after agent, publisher after publisher in the desperate hope that someone, somewhere will give you a chance; fear of losing– your time, your faith in your story, your belief in yourself and even your train of thought!– is what keeps you sitting in front of your monitor every day until you get it right, and then coming back the next day to face that same fear again. The fear of dying with his song yet unsung is the motivating force behind most writers. Fear is your strongest ally, and your deadliest enemy. The difference can be found in whether you use the fear, or let the fear use you.

So if the definition of courage is to be afraid, and do it anyway... Do it anyway.

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